How much sleep does your child really need?

How much sleep your child needs depends more on their age than their activity level.  A simple measure stick is listed below

Infants: Naps are crucial. Make sure they get a 1-3 hour nap and then at least 11-12 hours of nighttime sleep. 

3-6 Years: 10-12 hours of sleep per day

7-12 Years: 10-11 hours of sleep per day

12-18 Years: 8-9 Hours of sleep per day. 

When you actually think about it, you spend nearly one third of your life sleeping, trying to stay sleep or laying in bed wishing for sleep.  Especially in the early years of a child's life, establishing a healthy sleep hygiene schedule is imperative. Sleep affects everything from ability to focus, learn, mood, weight management and overall brain  and heart health. 

So how do you get better sleep? Do one thing differently and be consistent at it. 

Pick one of these tips below and master it. Then pick another and another until you have changed your sleep hygiene. 

1. Leave the electronics in another room. This includes phones, tv, e-readers, or anything that emits synthetic light to your eyes. 

2. Ditch the sugary drinks, caffeine or snacks before bed.  Yep, that diet coke you had at lunch can still keep you up at 11 pm.  

3. Keep it dark and cool.  Your room should be slightly cool and as dark as possible.  This goes for your children too.  You may have to convince them that the boogey man isn't real but both you and your child will sleep better when its dark and cool.  

4. Melatonin: Melatonin is naturally secreted from our brain to the body each night at around dusk. It is vital to setting the body's internal sleep clock.  Not enough and you won't get that sleep signal.  Light rays and waves from your phone or tablet will trick your brain into thinking it is still day time thus keeping you awake. Melatonin is safe, doctor recommended and drug-free. 

5. Calm the storm.  Often times a racing mind keeps adults awake.  How do you shut it off? With practice and concerted effort.  It is possible. I have been there and some nights I still battle it.  Try a meditation practice, controlled breathing or reading an actual physical book.  What I learned was that I wasn't going to solve all of the problems or issues racing in my mind at that moment in time so I began to write down all that I needed to do. This took the issues from my mind to my notebook. It gave them a place to live and I learned to prioritize and then attack.  I wasn't procrastinating, I was becoming more effective and problem solving real problems.  Practice and consistency is the key here.  


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